Penelope Cruz is much, much more than just a pretty face, and she knows how tough it is to be seen as something other than this in a town where looks mean everything and talent is oftentimes nothing more than an afterthought. The Spanish actress has been quoted as saying that “the most difficult thing in the world is to start a career known only for your looks, and then to try to become a serious actress. No one will take you seriously once you are known as the pretty woman.” What’s amazing about Penelope Cruz is not just her striking beauty, but also that she has definitely shown the world that she is unbelievably talented as well.
Before coming to the U.S., Penelope Cruz was already a well-known talent in Spain. As a teen, beginning at the age of 15, Cruz had plenty of roles in a number of Spanish TV shows and she also appeared in a good number of music videos. Within a few years, Penelope Cruz began collecting movie credits including: Belle Epoque (1992), Framed (1992), and Laberinto griego, Il (The Greek Labyrinth) 1993. Belle Epoque earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. In the movie, Penelope Cruz was one of four sisters involved in an intense competition to win the heart of a military man. In addition to earning an Oscar, Belle Epoque also won several Goyas, the Spanish equivalent of the Academy Awards. By 1997, Cruz had worked her way up to making three to four films per year. In 1996-1997, she landed a role in Pedro Almodovar’s Carne tremula (Live Flesh). This film ended up being her claim to international fame.
Following Carne tremula, Cruz had roles in Abre los Ojos (1997), which earned eight Goyas, and Nina de tus ojos, La, which earned Penelope Cruz her first Goya for Best Actress. Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother, 1999) was the actresses’ first international hit. Directed by Pedro Almodovar, the gorgeous actress was cast as a nun. In 2000, Cruz starred in the American comedy Woman on Top. During this time she landed lead roles in Blow (2001), starring Johnny Depp and All the Pretty Horses (2000), starring Matt Damon.
Penelope Cruz became the million-dollar woman when she landed a starring role in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky (2001), starring Tom Cruise, for which she received a salary of $2 million. In 2005, Cruz starred in Sahara, for which she earned $1.6 million.
Born Penelope Cruz Sanchez in Madrid Spain on April 24, 1974, Penelope Cruz has enjoyed an enormous amount of success throughout the years as an actress in her native Spain and in America. While her career is worthy of front-page entertainment news, it seems as though the peaks and valleys in her love life take priority over her successes in the film industry. The star dated Tom Cruise from 2001-2004 and she dated Matthew McConaughey for a year. Cruz has also been linked to Orlando Bloom and Josh Hartnett. The actress denies any romantic links to either actor. Although Penelope Cruz stated early on that she is “just friends” with No Country for Old Men star Javier Bardem, conflicting reports state that the two are indeed an item.
Penelope Cruz’s most recent films and projects include: Bandidas (2006), Volver (2006), Lupe Sino (2007), The Good Night (2007), Elegy (2008), G-Force (2009), Abrazos rotos, Los (2009), and Nine (2009). In 2007, the actress launched a clothing line with her younger sister, Monica Cruz — back home in Spain.